Litter Free Falmouth’s 1st Fall Townwide Litter Cleanup was a resounding success. Some highlights from this volunteer event:

• 154 members of the community signed up. In a number of cases, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, where one person signed in, but many more participated.

• 25 members obtained free litter grabbing sticks (and T-shirts) available from the Keep Massachusetts Beautiful website. Others purchased grabbers from local hardware stores and online.

• Saturday, December 5, was largely a rainout, but Sunday was a glorious day. Litter was collected from roadsides, beaches and conservation lands throughout the town.

We heard from a number of participants. More than one long-time litter picker-upper remarked how good it was to be joined by others. One person remarked how she felt for the first time that she had some control over a negative element of our environment. Several people using a grabber for the first time related how easy, effective and speedy they are to use. Suggestions were received that similar events be scheduled quarterly or even monthly. Nearly everyone remarked about the character and quantity of litter on our roadsides.

In another action, Litter Free Falmouth has signed an agreement with MassDOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program. This agreement commits the adoption team to pick up litter at least monthly along the four-lane portion of Route 28. So far, nine community members have signed up, viewed the required safety video, participated in one or more of the three Adopt-a-Highway events filling 72 bags with litter. To date the team has concentrated its efforts to the two miles of Route 28 between Thomas Landers Road and Route 151. Additional volunteers are needed and will be most welcomed.

A set of statistics compiled by the Route 28 team stands out. A count of litter collected from one side of the southbound entrance ramp at Thomas Landers Road identified 147 litter items. Of these, 57 were alcohol nips and 21 were beer and other alcoholic drink cans and bottles. Think about that: 53 percent of the litter items tossed out the window while merging onto a high-speed, divided highway were alcohol-related. The next highest category was plastic, single-use water bottles contributing 9 percent of the total.

Few “like new” Styrofoam cups and takeout containers or plastic shopping bags were reported by volunteers. Those that were collected showed signs of having been littered a year or more ago. These observations document that Town Meeting’s past votes to ban the sale of food and drink items in Styrofoam containers and retail plastic bags have had the desired effect. We anticipate further reductions in littering this fall when Town Meeting’s votes banning the sales of nips and single-use plastic water bottles go into effect.

What’s next for Litter Free Falmouth?

Litter Free Falmouth is hosting a community-wide discussion of the path forward to achieve a litter free Falmouth on Thursday, January 21, from 7 to 8 PM. Register via SignUpGenius using the following link:

To join the Zoom Meeting, click on the link below a few minutes before 7:00:

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee will be partnering with the Department of Public Works and Litter Free Falmouth for a presentation to be made at a Select Board meeting, likely in February.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to pick up litter, safely, whenever you see it and are a position to do so.

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) encourages your comments, questions and suggestions on all topics related to solid waste and recycling in Falmouth. Please email us at swac@falmouthma.gov.

SWAC’s meetings, via Zoom for now, are open to all members of the community. We encourage your participation. Our next meeting is Tuesday, February 2, at 7 PM. Zoom meeting login instructions and the meeting link for this specific meeting can be found at www.falmouthmass.us/WasteAdvisory.

Mr. Robinson is a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee. He is also a member of Litter Free Falmouth.

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